‘Tis the season for parking-lot perils

By Erik Harden, BWC Public Information Officer

Let’s face it, parking lots can be harrowing under the best of circumstances. Throw in wintry weather and/or holiday shopping, and the mayhem increases exponentially.

However, there are steps you can take to make navigating them a little less scary. First, let’s talk about walking hazards.

Whether you’re at work or at the mall, remember to slow down and focus on walking (putting your phone away helps) when there is snow and ice. Check the weather forecast and plan your footwear accordingly. Snow boots are better than two or three-inch heels when an ice storm is in the forecast. Finally, walk with your feet turned outward and in small shuffling steps when pos­sible. You know, like a duck.

It’s always important to practice personal security in park­ing areas, but even more so when shopping during the holidays.

  • Park in well-lit areas and scan the parking lot for threats while leaving or arriving at your vehicle.
  • Avoid shopping alone whenever possible.
  • Beware of strangers approaching you for any reason.
  • Have your keys ready – to help you enter and exit your vehicle quickly.
  • Do not leave new purchases in plain view in your vehicle. Put bags and packages in the trunk.
  • Don’t overload yourself with bags. Doing so makes you an easy target, and can make it easier to slip and fall on ice or snow.
  • Above all – stay alert and aware of your surroundings always. Not to harp on it, but putting your phone away helps.

Limited spaces and frantic shoppers can turn parking lots into a free-for-all at this time of year.

The following tips will make your next trip to the mall safer and happier.

  • Be aware and look in all direc­tions as you travel.
  • Drive slowly and watch for cars that might be cutting diagonally across the lot.
  • Use turn signals and yield the right of way to cars travelling along aisles.
  • Look for spots where you can pull through and face out to prevent the need for backing out.

Try to park in the center of a parking space. Don’t be the person who parks over the line, diagonal or not into a space far enough. Doing so may not give other drivers enough room to park their car without harming yours.

Spending just a little extra time to park will improve your chances of avoiding an accident.

Older Ohioans: Know your abilities and options to stay on the road safely

Posted on the BWC Blog with permission from our friends at the Ohio Department of Aging and Ohio Department of Transportation.

Because being able to get around in the community is critical for older Ohioans to remain independent and healthy, the Ohio Department of Aging and the Ohio Department of Transportation are partnering to increase awareness of available resources for older drivers during Older Driver Safety Awareness Week, Dec. 3-7, 2018.

Drivers age 65 and older represent the fastest-growing segment of licensed drivers in Ohio and across the nation. While older drivers are among the safest drivers on our roads, they may be more likely to be seriously injured in a crash. Ohio has seen four consecutive years of rising traffic deaths involving drivers age 65 and older.

To maintain their mobility, older Ohioans should become aware of their changing abilities, understand the factors that can increase the risk of a crash and learn about resources in their communities to maintain their driving ability or find alternatives to driving.

Normal aging may increase common risk factors for roadway accidents, including changes in vision, hearing, strength, visibility, reflexes and memory. Medical conditions and certain medications also may impact the ability to drive safely. Older drivers also may drive older vehicles that no longer fit their needs (e.g., too big or too small, or seats, steering wheel and mirrors do not adjust sufficiently). Finally, a fear of driving and traffic can increase the risk of a crash.

Tips for older driver safety:

  • Stay aware of your changing physical, vision and hearing abilities and adjust your driving habits accordingly. Exercise regularly to increase and maintain your strength and flexibility.
  • Ask your doctor or pharmacist if any medical conditions you have or medications you take could make it unsafe to drive.
  • Try to do most of your driving during daylight and in good weather. Avoid busy roadways and rush hours whenever possible.
  • Plan your route before you drive and choose routes with well-lit streets, intersections with left turn signals and easy parking.
  • Avoid distractions while driving, including talking or texting on a cell phone, eating, or listening to a loud radio. In-car conversations can also be distracting.
  • Leave plenty of room between you and the vehicle in front of you so that you can react if the other driver stops or slows suddenly.
  • Do not drive too slowly, as this can be as unsafe as speeding.

The Ohio Department of Aging offers a webpage (www.aging.ohio.gov/transportation) of transportation and driving tips and resources for older adults. The page includes a link to “Stay Fit to Drive,” a publication of the Ohio Department of Transportation that includes statistics about older driver crashes and tips to reduce key risk factors.

Toy safety – make a list and check it twice

By Erik Harden, BWC Public Information Officer

Ralphie’s dream of getting a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas in the holiday classic “A Christmas Story” has become the stuff of legend. The constant refrain of “you’ll shoot your eye out” torments the young protagonist and gives viewers a good laugh.

But toy safety is a serious matter, especially at this time of year. According to the non-profit toy safety group World Against Toys Causing Harm, Inc. (W.A.T.C.H.), a child is treated in U.S. emergency rooms every three minutes for a toy-related injury.

Statistics from the Consumer Product Safety Commission show there were an estimated 240,000 toy-related injuries in the U.S. in 2016, and a reported 35 children died from toy-related incidents from 2014 to 2016. So, what can we do to keep children safe?

For starters, W.A.T.C.H. releases its Top 10 Worst Toys List before the holiday shopping season to help consumers avoid some of the most dangerous toys on the market. Prevent Blindness America also declares each December Safe Toys and Gifts Month. Although its primary focus is protecting children’s eyesight, Prevent Blindness America has a Safe Toy Checklist that generally applies to toy selection. Prevent Blindness America suggests doing the following before purchasing a toy.

  • Read all warnings and instructions on the box.
  • Ask yourself if the toy is right for your child’s ability and age.
  • Avoid purchasing toys with sharp or rigid points, spikes, rods or dangerous edges.
  • Check the lenses and frames of children’s sunglasses; many can break and cause injuries.
  • Buy toys that will withstand impact and not break into dangerous shards.
  • Look for the letters “ASTM.” This designation means the product meets the national safety standards set by ASTM International.
  • Avoid toys that shoot or include parts that fly off. Remember that BB guns are NOT toys (sorry Ralphie).

W.A.T.C.H. says with online sales expected to surge 17 to 22 percent this 2018 holiday season, parents face the disadvantage of not being able to touch and physically inspect a toy and its packaging for warning signs of obvious hazards at the time of purchase. Also, consumer-to-consumer (i.e. “second-hand”) online sales provide additional opportunities for the purchase of recalled toys and toys with proven defects.

Since there currently is no full-proof safety net in place to prevent dangerous toys from reaching consumers, W.A.T.C.H.  urges parents to think defensively when it comes to toy safety this holiday season. Parents can avoid many toy-related hazards by:

  • Remaining cautious.
  • Identifying safety red flags.
  • Knowing what classic safety traps to look out for.
  • Inspecting new and old toys for defects and poor design.
  • Learning to identify hidden hazards.

W.A.T.C.H. also cautions toy shoppers not to be lulled into a false sense of security that a toy is safe because it has a familiar brand name on the package or it’s available from a well-known retailer.

Using these tips will help keep the kiddos safe and happy this holiday season. Not giving them a “deranged Easter Bunny” suit is also a good plan.

Get to your Thanksgiving feast safe and sound

Buckle Up – Every Trip. Every Time.

By Erik Harden, BWC Public Information Officer

For many of us Thanksgiving includes piling into a car and travelling to visit family and friends. In fact, Thanksgiving weekend is the year’s busiest travel weekend.

Whether you’re driving across the street or across the country to reach your Thanksgiving feast, you should always wear your seat belt.

With increased traffic brings the increased possibility of traffic crashes. That’s why we’re partnering with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to share this important lifesaving reminder: Buckle Up – Every Trip. Every Time.

During the 2016 Thanksgiving weekend*, 341 people died in motor vehicle crashes nationwide. Tragically, 49 percent of those killed had not buckled up. Nighttime proved even more deadly, with 55 percent of Thanksgiving weekend crashes occurring at night.

Much like drunk driving, these deaths represent needless tragedies for families across America. The simple click of a seat belt could have prevented these fatalities. Research shows that wearing a seat belt is one of the simplest things you can do to stay safe when you’re traveling in a vehicle, especially during busy travel periods like Thanksgiving.

The NHTSA estimates that proper seat belt use reduces the risk of fatal injury to front seat passengers by 45 percent, and the risk of moderate to serious injury by 50 percent. In 2016, approximately 14,668 people survived crashes because they were buckled up. If everyone had worn their seat belts that year, an additional 2,456 lives could have been saved. NHTSA’s research also shows:

  • Males are more likely to be unbuckled than females in fatal crashes. In 2016, 52 percent of males who died in crashes were not buckled up at the time of the crash, compared to 40 percent of females.
  • Younger drivers are also at greater risk of being unbuckled. In fact, the 13- to 15-year-old and 18- to 34-year-old age groups had the highest percentages (62 percent and 59 percent, respectively) of occupants killed who were not wearing their seat belts at the time of the crash.

Seat belt use should be a no-brainer. We know that regular seat belt use vastly reduces fatalities. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, let’s be grateful for the most basic vehicle technology that has – without a doubt –  saved the most lives.

We all want to see our friends and family arrive safe and sound to the Thanksgiving table. So, remember to Buckle Up – Every Trip. Every Time.

For additional tips to make your holiday road trip safer, visit our BeSafeOhio site.

*6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 23, to 5:59 a.m. Monday, Nov. 28

 

 

Contractor safety: When you bring outside people in to do work

By Cari Gray, CSP, BWC Safety Consultant Specialist

What do you do when you need an outside company to come into your business to fix or replace something? Say a pipe bursts or your boiler stops working. Do you have a contractor safety policy in place?

In safety we spend so much time focusing on the safety of our employees that sometimes we are blindsided when an outside company comes in and creates a new hazard. Almost all of us use contractors. Although they are not on your payroll, there is still a chance of injury to themselves or your employees. There are many hazards that outside contractors can bring with them, for starters:  lockout issues, hazardous chemicals or even new or different dangerous equipment. You need an intentional focus on dealing with contractors!

Often companies bring in outside contractors to do dangerous or non-routine jobs. Therefore, it’s crucial for you to determine how contract work could expose your employees to workplace injuries and create a process to minimize the hazards.

If a serious injury results from work with contractors, or if there happens to be a compliance officer visiting you while a contractor is performing work, you are jointly responsible and can be held accountable.  You could face inspections, citations and even lawsuits. So, what should you do?  Read on, my friend.

Companies can take control and conduct a thorough review and prequalification of contractors before they allow them to enter their workplace. Once on site, contractors should have a meeting prior to starting the work. In addition, they should have audits during the work’s operations.

If you do not have a contractor safety policy or find that yours is lacking, there are steps you can take. First, think about the people that enter your workplace who are not employees. Are they exposing your employees, other contractors or your customers to additional hazards?

Next, draft your new or updated policy. Your policy could include:

  • Prequalification – This can look different for different types of contractors – you’ll need to look a bit harder at your electrical contractor than the folks who refill your vending machine.
  • Responsibilities – Who’s in charge of this program? If you don’t assign someone, guess what – no one will do it!
  • Company-equipment policy – Do you allow contractors to use your equipment?
  • Emergency procedures – Including interior shelter locations, alarm meanings and outside assembly locations.
  • Training requirements – Pre- job meetings and sometimes you may want to see a contractor’s training record.
  • Housekeeping – Spell out your requirements.
  • Personal protective equipment – What are you requiring?
  • Lockout/tagout/try out – This is a key program with some contractors – some companies require a tandem lockout with contractors. Look at this program and audit with this focus in mind.
  • Fire prevention.
  • Incident reporting.
  • Hazard Communication Standard requirements, including informing the employer about chemicals brought into the facility.
  • Enforcement and company safety rules.

Once you create your contractor-safety program, take time to review it with your employees, especially anyone that may invite a contractor in the building.  Do this at least annually. If you involve employees in creating the program and its policies, they are more likely to recognize, approach and ensure contractors are working safely.

If you see unsafe behaviors, bring it up to the contractor and correct the behavior. If the unsafe behaviors persist, remove them from the premises. You’ve got it, sometimes a contractor can’t seem to follow your safety rules. It’s OK to find another contractor that will. Keeping your employees and contractors safe is the goal.

If you need help with contractor safety policies (or any safety policies), be sure to contact your local safety consultant from your local BWC service office. They are there to help you!

Fall driving: Don’t get left in the dark

By Michelle Francisco, BWC Safety Council Program Manager

Are you looking forward to that extra hour of sleep this weekend? You’ll feel refreshed, more alert and aware with that extra rest.

Maybe not.

Studies show there is generally an increase in the average number of collisions during the late-afternoon commute in the two weeks following the end of daylight saving time.

When the clock moves back an hour, sunset also comes earlier, and many people will find themselves spending more time driving in the dark.

Since our bodies’ internal clocks tell us to sleep when it’s dark, it stands to reason early nightfall makes us more prone to drowsy driving – especially as we adjust to evening commutes during the first week of the time change.

Along with drowsy driving, the darker driving conditions decrease visibility and increase the chances for a car accident.

In fact, the risk of a fatal crash is three times greater at night, according to the National Safety Council, so it is very important for drivers to be prepared when daylight saving time ends and the evenings become darker earlier.

So be prepared for the time change with these driving safety tips:

  • Prep your car for nighttime driving. It may be common sense, but it bears repeating. Check and clean your headlights, taillights, brake lights, and signal lights. After all, you want to see and be seen by other drivers on the road.
  • Be extra cautious. Slow down to compensate for limited visibility and reduced stopping time. Also, keep in mind that pedestrians of all ages, joggers and bicyclists will be less visible during dusk and after-dark hours. According to the Ohio Department of Transportation, the number of fatal crashes involving pedestrians in Ohio has risen in recent years and the majority of those deaths happen at night. That’s exacerbated by the end of daylight saving time, as the number of daylight hours shrinks. Last year, November accounted for 18 percent of Ohio’s pedestrian deaths and only 22 percent of the total happened during the day.
  • Get rest. Make sure you get the proper amount of sleep each night to try and avoid drowsy driving and avoid the temptation to stay up extra late this Saturday night – even if you do get that bonus hour.
  • Watch out for animals on the road. Deer and other animals are most active at night, and since more deer-related collisions occur in November than any other month, be extra careful in the weeks following daylight saving time.

One more consideration: This week a new distracted driving law went into effect in Ohio and fines for the offense increased to $100 after deadly statistics for accidents continue to climb across the country. Just one more reason to pay attention to the road!

So, don’t forget to set your clocks back this weekend, enjoy that extra hour of sleep and stay safe while driving in the coming weeks.

Check out BeSafeOhio.com for more driving safety tips, and avoiding common injuries at home and in your workplace.

Halloween driving safety: Ghouls and goblins just ahead

By Bob Braun, Regional Business Development Manager

BWC advocates safe driving all year long, but we all must remember to be especially attentive on the roadways tomorrow.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that Halloween is consistently one of the top three days for pedestrian injuries and fatalities. Because excited trick-or-treaters often forget about safety, motorists must be even more alert.

What can you do this Halloween to keep those ghouls and goblins safe in your neighborhood?

Follow these Halloween driving safety tips:

  • Avoid distractions, so you can stay alert. Put your cell phone away, don’t reach for anything until you’re safely stopped and save your snacks for your destination.
  • Slow down in residential neighborhoods and obey all traffic signs and signals. Drive at least 5 mph below the posted speed limit to give yourself extra time to react to children who may dart into the street.
  • Scan your surroundings and be extra alert. Kids may not be paying attention to traffic and will cross the street mid-block or between parked cars and in dark costumes, some will be harder to see at night.
  • Don’t pass other vehicles that have stopped in the roadway. They could be picking up or dropping off children, so wait several seconds before attempting to pass, and only if you see there are no people near the car.
  • Exit driveways and pull onto streets with extreme caution. Children have a harder time judging how a driver will react and are more likely to think they have the okay to go ahead.

Please heed these common-sense tips to keep our communities and children safe this Halloween. Happy haunting!

Check out BeSafeOhio.com for more driving safety tips, and avoiding common injuries at home and in your workplace.